How Plants Grow Up

Sarah McKim (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


A plant's lateral structures, such as leaves, branches and flowers, literally hinge on the shoot axis, making its integrity and growth fundamental to plant form. In all plants, subapical proliferation within the shoot tip displaces cells downward to extrude the cylindrical stem. Following the transition to flowering, many plants show extensive axial elongation associated with increased subapical proliferation and expansion. However, the cereal grasses also elongate their stems, called culms, due to activity within detached intercalary meristems which displaces cells upward, elevating the grain-bearing inflorescence. Variation in culm length within species is especially relevant to cereal crops, as demonstrated by the high-yielding semi-dwarfed cereals of the Green Revolution. Although previously understudied, recent renewed interest the regulation of subapical and intercalary growth suggests that control of cell division planes, boundary formation and temporal dynamics of differentiation, are likely critical mechanisms coordinating axial growth and development in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-277
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Integrative Plant Biology
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019


  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Plant Development/genetics
  • Plant Stems/growth & development
  • Plant Vascular Bundle/cytology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science


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